Thursday, August 16, 2007

The Polite American Goldfinch

This is my backyard finch feeder. Yesterday, I talked about the front yard feeders, so its just fitting that I show the backyard one too. This feeder has thistle seeds in hopes to attract the goldfinch and the house finch. I really love the American Goldfinch, he always seems so polite and happy. Perhaps it is just his sunny costume or his soft cheery melody, who doesn't crack a smile when encountering one of these?

I went through much grief to get this picture. I sat on the garden floor, I didn't mind waiting a while for the goldfinch to land as I focused on the feeder, but just as the goldfinch landed on a telephone wire scoping me out to make sure I was safe, ants started to crawl all over. I felt one on my leg, one on my left hand and one starting up my back! If I freaked out, I wouldn't get the picture and he might be too scared to return, so I bit my tongue and just let the ants have free reign. I finally took the picture and let the goldfinch witness a human freak out, jumping and spinning and brushing ants off!

Let's learn about the American Goldfinch. In Chicago we are fortunate enough to have them all year round. In the summer, the male is a bright yellow and the female is a drab yellow with some olive tones. In the winter, the goldfinch molts (new colored feathers emerge) into an olive color. When flying, the goldfinch has an up and down pattern like a roller coaster. Interestingly, they only have 1 brood (set of young) a year and they wait a real long time to lay eggs, like the end of July. The theory is, they want to establish enough food to raise their young. Smart! Sometimes animals are smarter than humans. Anyway, goldfinches are pretty timid and easily bullied by sparrows who are larger and more aggressive. I find that the male and the female goldfinch stick together and both like to show up at the feeder in the late afternoon, early evening.